Building a network can seem like such a huge, amorphous project — where do you start? How do you break it down? Don’t let the overwhelm set in! Here are four ways you can strengthen your network.
As a realtor, your network is your business. It can help you get in front of new customers without spending money on ads, build a referral network with other service providers, and generally help you build a sustainable business where you aren’t constantly hustling for your next lead.
Networking is about helping other people, not watching out for yourself first. With that in mind, it’s important to engage in your local community as much as you can. Being an active member at local chamber of commerce meetings, professional organizations, or even neighborhood meetings or PTA meetings can help you meet new people.
Establishing yourself as a constant presence in your community can help expand your client base, but that’s not the only benefit. It’ll also make you more familiar with the neighborhoods that you work in and help you match clients with the neighborhoods that are the best fit for their personalities and needs.
As a service-based business owner, you can meet other people who own and run businesses and have an immediate sense of camaraderie. It’s easy to network with people who serve your target market and build referral relationships with them — interior designers or landscapers, for example.
Jamie Crouch notes that this made a huge difference early on in her career — she joined BNI, and found it to be well worth the effort. “It was a great networking tool for me, because I met other business leaders across industries who were also interested in networking and referrals. I had a great return on investment with that group from the referrals I received, and built relationships with others in the community that I still have to this day.”
Having a network of fellow business owners that you can share local news and information with can create a new source of referrals and make you feel less alone on your entrepreneurial journey.
As you build your network of fellow realtors and business owners, it’s likely that you’ll start to see the same problems from person to person. Whenever you have a solution to a problem someone else has, help them out, even if they’re a “competitor” — it can help build goodwill and it’s likely that at some point, they’ll have a client they can take on and remember your act of kindness. Desare Kohn-Laski, owner of Skye Louis Realty, gets a lot of mileage from talking to other realtors about their shared struggles, noting “While some may say networking with other agents is useless, I find the opportunity to learn what others are doing to be insightful and helpful.”
Another idea is to check out meetup groups in the neighborhoods that you’re most active in and attend the ones that are of interest to you. If there are professionally-oriented meetup groups (or meetup groups that touch on topics that are of interest to your potential clientele), you can also pitch yourself as a speaker or coordinator for one of their meetings. Just make sure that your presentation is genuinely useful and doesn’t come off as one big sales pitch.
Outside of local meetups, attending industry events and conferences are a great way to learn about new market innovations, tactics your colleagues are using, and meet new people. You can also share your own information, insights, and strategies, and even pitch yourself as a speaker if you’re a good fit for the conference’s theme and topics.
This is a great way to expand your geographical network, especially if you’ve been living and working in the same area for a long time. By meeting realtors in other parts of the country, you build a referral network that can send you business when one of their clients moves to your part of the world, and vice versa.
All of these tips can be used online or offline — or in both ways at once. They both have their strengths and weaknesses – check out these 4 ways to supercharge your real estate marketing for more info. Online networking is often easier to scale, because you can use tools like social media that are one-to-many (instead of one-to-one). Offline networking is often a little more targeted and can create a much more personal sense of connection with potential customers.
The best approach uses a blend of both. If you’re just getting started, it makes sense to have an online presence (a site and social media profiles) but do most of your networking in person, and then build up your online marketing as your in-person network builds. That way, you have people who can personally vouch for you, sending you new customers, and your online presence can give you a solid return on investment over time.